Is Your Strategic Plan Destined for Failure?

September 30, 2022


Did you know the majority of strategic planning fails? Apparently, the research is pretty grim and shows strategic planning fails two-thirds of the time. YIKES! This sounds like terrible news for my business, where I focus on strategic planning, and you might think I’m crazy for sharing this nugget of research. 

However, after doing a little more digging, things got a whole lot clearer. According to the Inc. article, Why 67% of Strategic Plans Fail:

“Strategic planning was initially invented to provide a step-by-step plan to managers and doers within businesses to ensure they get it right. But, it turns out, giving someone a plan is far less effective than aligning your team on a vision or endpoint — meaning, getting people clear on where they need to go as the starting point. That’s the difference between strategic planning (analysis) and strategic thinking (synthesis).” 

So, my takeaway from the article was a little more optimistic. Yes, gathering a small group, laying out a plan, and asking your team to get on-board may not be super compelling. The better approach is to be guided by purpose. This is the foundation of my work. Get really clear about your purpose and then use it to motivate, engage and inspire the people around you.

During the past few years, I’ve developed a five step framework to move from purpose to action. This framework outlines how purpose moves through a business and it guides my strategic planning work. The entire process starts with Clarity. Both the clarity of your purpose (obvious) and the clarity around why you want to be a purpose-driven business. (This last part is akin to executive buy-in.)

Only when these two things are clear can an organization take meaningful action. The rest of the process outlines how purpose manifests itself throughout the business, ending with Commitment.

Regardless of the process – strategic planning / strategy sessions / goal-setting – the important pieces are clarity and alignment. When the purpose is clear, people are clear about where the business is going. Employees are more likely to make decisions that align with the purpose and your clients or customers are more likely to support you on your journey.

What do you think? What has your experience been like with the strategic planning process?

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Didn’t get enough? Check out The Corporate Purpose Podcast for interviews with experts and more ideas about building a purpose driven business. 

Looking for help with your 2023 Strategic Plan? Let’s chat or click here to learn more about our process.




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Karen Bailey is a brand purpose consultant and specializes in helping companies define their purpose and align their business around it. In 2017, she launched the blog, Purpose Greater Than Profit, to start a meaningful conversation about the increasingly important role of brand purpose, purposeful leadership and a better way of doing business.


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